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Small Business Ideas in the Booming Indian Pharmaceutical Industry


The pharmaceutical industry in India has emerged as a pivotal player, particularly during the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. With its reputation as a major supplier of generic drugs worldwide, India’s pharmaceutical sector gained renewed importance as it responded to the demand for potential treatments from various developed nations. This blog explores several small business opportunities within the Indian pharmaceutical industry, spanning manufacturing, marketing, distribution, consultancy services, and online pharmacies.

India’s Pharmaceutical Global Dominance

India’s pharmaceutical prowess was evident during the pandemic, as it supplied over 50% of the world’s vaccine demand, 40% of generic drugs in the US, and a quarter of all medications in the UK. This success is attributed to India’s pool of skilled scientists and engineers, who have the potential to elevate the industry further.

Domestic and International Opportunities

While the industry heavily contributes to international markets, it also emphasises domestic growth. Anticipated domestic growth hinges on pharmaceutical companies aligning their product portfolio with chronic therapies to address rising diseases such as cardiovascular, diabetes, depression, and cancer.

Government Initiatives and Support

The Indian government has initiated various programs to bolster the pharmaceutical industry’s growth. These efforts include cost-reduction measures to make healthcare more affordable. The government’s focus on introducing generic drugs quickly into the market benefits local pharmaceutical companies. The emphasis on rural health programs, essential medicines, and preventive vaccines also bodes well for the industry’s future.

Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Business Ideas

The Indian pharmaceutical industry’s emphasis on generic drugs opens up numerous opportunities for manufacturing startups. Some potential business ideas include:

  • Paracetamol production
  • Vitamin C supplements
  • Cough syrup formulation
  • Bovine serum albumin extraction
  • Gelatin sponge manufacturing
  • Quinine sulfate extraction from cinchona bark
  • Pharmaceutical pellet and granule production
  • Active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturing
  • Gelatin extraction from bones
  • Production of pharmaceutical-grade Sorbitol
  • Manufacture of glucose saline solutions
  • Glycerin production
  • Mannitol synthesis
  • Production of industrial and pharmaceutical-grade oxygen
  • Conversion of date juice concentrate into medical alcohol
  • Manufacturing Ayurvedic medicines (e.g., chyawanprash, herbal cough syrup, ayurvedic hair oil)
  • Production of pharmaceutical-grade sugar
  • L-ascorbic acid synthesis
  • Orlistat production
  • Enzyme-based inverted sugar production
  • Cellulose powder manufacturing
  • Sterile water for injection production
  • Manufacturing blood bags
  • Dextrose injection formulation
  • Production of medicated lozenges (e.g., Strepsils, Tusg)
  • Acrylic teeth production
  • Ciprofloxacin synthesis
  • IV cannula manufacturing
  • Salicylic acid aspirin production
  • Fructose syrup extraction from broken rice
  • Glycerol monostearate (NSE SE grade) production

Manufacturing Process and Strategy

Pharmaceutical manufacturing requires a deep understanding of medicines and their development. Pharmacist entrepreneurs can establish medicines-manufacturing companies, outsourcing initial manufacturing to specialised firms due to the high costs. As revenue accumulates from outsourcing, investment in building in-house manufacturing capabilities becomes feasible.

Alternative Small Business Ideas

For those not inclined towards manufacturing, alternative business ideas within the pharmaceutical industry include:

  • Marketing and Distribution: Individuals passionate about marketing and pharmacy can thrive by distributing medicines to hospitals and pharmacies. This involves collaborating with pharmaceutical manufacturers and serving as an independent marketer for multiple companies.
  • Consultancy Services: Experts in medicine can offer consultancy services to medical professionals, aiding them with drug prescriptions, medication advice, and information about side effects.
  • Online Pharmacy: Taking advantage of the digital era, starting an online pharmacy can be lucrative. It eliminates rental costs associated with physical stores and allows for efficient prescription management and drug distribution.


The Indian pharmaceutical industry presents many opportunities for entrepreneurs with diverse interests and skill sets. Whether in manufacturing, distribution, consultancy, or online platforms, small businesses can thrive in this dynamic and rapidly evolving sector. By tapping into the industry’s strengths and innovations, aspiring entrepreneurs can contribute to India’s pharmaceutical journey while reaping the benefits of a thriving business landscape.

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